Shino Arihara

Shino Arihara
Shino Arihara’s often deceptively simple illustrations are usually in service of a concept, illustrating not only a particular article or story, but the underlying idea.

However, as is often the case for me when viewing the work of illustrators, I find some of her most interesting work is among her personal pieces, unrestrained by the demands of publishing.

Arihara’s illustrations appear to be painted in gouache. Her brief bio page doesn’t mention anything about technique or medium. It does tell us, however, that her clients include L.A. Weekly, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine, among others.

Her work has been included in American Illustration, Spectrum and illustration annuals for Communications Arts, which also featured an interview with her in the October, 2007 issue. She is also the recipient of a Bronze Medal from the Society of Illustrators.

In addition to her editorial work, Arihara has illustrated books like Ceci Ann’s Day of Why by Christopher Phillips, and A Song for Cambodia by Michelle Lord.

One of the characteristics of her work that I find most appealing is her use of the texture of the paint as a pictorial element, particularly in backgrounds or large areas of color in which the paint not only keeps, but emphatically declares, its identity as paint, without losing its role in conveying the image.

Arihara often keeps her palette restrained, choosing muted, neutralized colors accented by stronger hued passages and enlivened with those wonderful paint textures.

Philadelphia City Paper Comic Competition

Philadelphia City Paper Comic Competition
For those who would like a little exposure for their comics in the Philadelphia area, Philadelphia City Paper has posted an open invitation for cartoonists and illustrators to submit their comics for the weekly paper’s Second Annual Comics Issue.

All submissions will be posted on the paper’s web site, and editors picks will be published in the August 14th issue.

As their little bit of self-deprecating humor points out, they get free comics and you get “exposure”. Take it as you will.

Artists can submit Quarter Pages (4.875 x 4.875) or Half Pages (9.875 x 4.875) to:
Patrick Rapa
123 Chestnut Street, 3rd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19106

The deadline is August 6th.

Jeffrey T. Larson

Jeffrey T. Larson
Minnesota artist Jeffrey Larson studied at the Atelier Lack, now simply called The Atelier, an academic studio program founded by Richard F. Lack (who will be the subject of a future post if I can ever find enough examples of his work online). Lack was a student of R.H. Ives Gammell and one of the pioneers of returning the now-thriving European atelier style system of art instruction to viability here in the U.S.

Larson’s atelier training is most evident in his still life paintings, which have the refined clarity and precision of academic realism, but keep a painterly edge.

His figures, in contrast, are much looser, usually painted out of doors, and often posed in water or amid washlines full of sunlit sheets, bringing to mind the posed in water figures of Anders Zorn and the sun-drenced paintings of beach-goers by Joaquin Sorolla.

My favorites of Larson’s paintings, though, are his landscapes (bearing in mind that most of his figurative paintings are also landscapes in effect). These force me to resort to those overused terms “fresh” and “immediate” because nothing else sums them up quite as succinctly.

His landscapes evoke the dappled sunlight on an intimate creek or the cool haze of a winter sky with beautifully efficient brush strokes and a subtle handling of color variation. He’s chosen a position on the spectrum of tight to loose rendering that I find particularly appealing.

Something I found of special interest in Larson’s work is they way he constructs the image with the direction and shape of his brushstrokes. He isn’t just dabbing color in, filling in shapes with slapdash blots of paint, he’s drawing with his brushstrokes, defining the shapes of objects in same way lines and textures applied in a drawing can follow and define the form. (This is a characteristic I particularly associate with painters like Sargent or Cecilia Beaux.)

I’m also fascinated by the apparent difference in approach between Larson’s loose landscape and figurative work and his more tightly rendered still life paintings. There is no indication of dates for the work on his site, so perhaps the still life paintings are earlier; or perhaps Larson just enjoys applying the range of his considerable abilities in a different manner for those subjects.

Larson was featured in articles in Classical Realism Journal in 2001 and American Artist in 2004 (the latter as a cover story).

Addendum: Reader A.W.C. (see this post’s comments) was kind enough to write and let us know that there is currently a solo exhibition of Jeffrey Larson’s work at Tree’s Place Gallery in Orleans, Massashusetts. In addition to an online catalog, which features several images of his work, there is a multi-page gallery of images that can be enlarged by clicking on the thumbnails.

Tor Books

Tor Books illustrators: Patrick Arrasmith, Christian Alzmann, David Bowers, Brom, Jon Foster, Bob Eggleton, Brian Despain, Aleksi Briclot, Daren Bader
Tor Books is a publishing house that specializes in science fiction and fantasy titles. I should probably say outstanding science fiction and fantasy titles; Tor has won the Locus Magazine poll for best science fiction publisher every year for the last 20 years.

Tor also publishes some of the very best science fiction and fantasy illustration, which is to say some of the best contemporary illustration, period. I’ve noticed in recent years, more and more mainstream illustrators moving into the this field, and more of them turning up each year in the Spectrum collections of contemporary fantastic art.

The superb choices of illustrators, and the art direction that aligns them in in fine tuned harmony with the stories they are illustrating, is the work of Tor’s insightful art director, Irene Gallo (see my previous post on Irene Gallo and her blog The Art Department). Gallo has been the art director at Tor since 1992.

Tor books has just launched a new web site at, and it has immediately become one of the best destination sites for science fiction and fantasy on the web.

In addition to the fascinating blog, and the stories you can read online (soon to include a graphic story, The Leviathan by Wesley Allsbrook), the new Tor web site includes a feature of particular interest to Lines and Colors readers, a gallery of some of their terrific illustrators.

There is a Featured Artist, currently Craig Phillips, and a roster of some of the field’s best illustrators, each with a gallery of representative work.

The list includes many illustrators I’ve featured here on Lines and Colors, including Craig Phillips, Scott Altmann, Christian Alzmann, Patrick Arrasmith, Daren Bader, Volkan Baga, David Bowers, Aleksi Briclot, Brom, Kinuko Y. Craft, Brian Despain, Bob Eggleton, Craig Elliot and Jon Foster, as well as many others that I haven’t covered who are sure to be the subject of future posts.

It’s an impressive showing and, as of this writing, they are apparently only up to the “F’s” in filling out the gallery.

Despite a few little post-launch glitches (missing thumbnails in some of the galleries) this is a fantastic collection of fantastic art, and even in its initial stages, already one of the best on the web.

The only downside I can possibly see is that that the Tor blog may distract Irene Gallo from her regular posting on The Art Department. While her posts on the Tor blog would be as interesting and informative, it’s nice to have them in one place, undiluted by other topics.

Though there may be larger repositories of science fiction and fantasy art on the web, you would be hard pressed to find a more concentrated sampling of the best the field has to offer (up to the “F’s”, that is).

(Image above, left to right: Patrick Arrasmith, Jon Foster, Christian Alzmann, Daren Bader, Brom, Brian Despain, Bob Eggleton, Aleksi Briclot, David Bowers)

Correction: Don Dos Santos was kind enough to write an let me know that there are, in fact, links to the other alphabetically arranged sections of the gallery. I specifically looked for links to additional pages at the top and bottom of the column of thumbnails, but they are off to the left in the heading area, which graphically seems to be a separate element from the thumbnail column.

Of course, that also extends the list of artists in the Tor galleries that I have previously written posts about on Lines and Colors (and I actually surprised myself on this one): Marc Gabbana, Donato Giancola, James Gurney, Stephen Hickman, James Jean, Tom Kidd, Todd Lockwood, Gregory Manchess, Daryl Mandryk, Stephen Martiniere, David Mattingly, Chris Moore, Lawrence Northey, John Jude Palencar, John Picacio, Alan Pollack, Omar Ryyan, Adam Rex, Robh Ruppel, Don Dos Santos, Sparth, Raymond Swanland, Greg Swearingen, Shaun Tan, Keith Thompson, Francis Tsai, Dice Tsutsumi, Christophe Vacher and Sam Weber.

PJ Lynch

PJ Lynch
PJ Lynch is an Irish illustrator currently living in Dublin. His award winning illustrations have appeared in numerous books, illustrating both modern stories and new versions of classics.

Lynch has also been commissioned to design posters for Opera Ireland and the Abbey Theatre, created murals for the Cavan County Library based on Gulliver’s Travels and designed stamps for the Irish postal service.

You can see some of the latter in a recent post on his blog, on which he also links to his 6 step by step painting videos on YouTube. You will also find some of his gallery paintings.

There is also a step by step article on the creation of his cover for The Gift of the Magi on Scamp, the Irish illustration blog.

For his illustrations, Lynch works primarily in watercolor. At times his illustrations can be evocative of classic illustrators like Arthur Rackham or Edmund Dulac, at other times they have a modern feeling; Lynch adopts his stylistic approach to the service of best illustrating the story.

Throughout, there is careful attention to the role of light, particularly the muted light of overcast days or candlelit interiors, and a masterful handling of textures and suggestions of the tactile surfaces of things.

Lynch has that quality evident in the best illustrators of understanding the theatrical application of his compositional elements; his lighting, color and textures are not just creating an image, they are also telling a story.

His gallery of book illustrations will take you through a series of covers, from which you can click to see images from the individual title. There are several pages of thumbnails, and a number of books. (Don’t miss his wonderful interpretation of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol toward the back.)

Lynch’s six (to date) step by step painting videos are short, nicely done and fascinating. They are simple, but gracefully timed and well photographed. They take you through his process from initial sketch to finished painting with just enough steps to get a good feeling for his watercolor or oil technique.

I was particularly fascinated by his video showing him painting the portrait of a young boy in a baseball cap, based on a photograph and inspired by his study of Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring (which he titles The Boy with the Blue Baseball Cap: I am not Vermeer!).

[Suggestion and links courtesy of James Gurney]